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Wainfleet flooding: RAF helps to stem River Steeping breach

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Media captionAn RAF helicopter assessing whether it can drop ballast to block a breach in the river bank.

RAF crews have airlifted 4,000 tonnes of ballast in a bid to block a breach in a river bank which has caused severe flooding in a town.

The River Steeping burst its banks at Wainfleet All Saints, Lincolnshire, on Wednesday after two months’ worth of rain fell in two days.

A state of emergency was declared on Thursday with more than 70 properties flooded and residents evacuated.

Three Chinook helicopters are expected to continue working for several hours.

Police said there were also reports of a second breach in the Thorpe St Peter area which is currently being assessed.

A firefighter was taken to hospital with minor injuries after he was injured moving equipment overnight in Wainfleet.

Karl Foxall, watch manager with Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The water levels currently haven’t changed but we have brought in four high-volume pumps and they’re currently at Gibraltar Point.”

Assistant Chief Constable Shaun West of Lincolnshire Police added the rescue effort was showing some early signs of success.

“Where there were thousands of gallons of water gushing through that breach when I started, that is starting to stem. We need to stem the flow and plug that breach,” he said.

About 50 firefighters from across the UK are involved in dealing with flooding across Lincolnshire, he confirmed.

Image copyright Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue
Image caption Crews are dropping ballast and sand in a bid to block a breach in the River Steeping
Image copyright MOD
Image caption Officials said the operation is expected to continue until late in the evening
Image copyright Kurnia Aerial Photography
Image caption The river breached its banks near Wainfleet All Saints after persistent heavy rainfall

The weather is due to improve on Friday but Mr West said the water could take some considerable time to subside.

He said the priority was to keep people safe.

Fire crews are continuing to evacuate some of the worst affected properties.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Residents in Wainfleet were still being removed by fire crews on Friday
Image copyright PA
Image caption The town had more than two months’ worth of rain in just two days

A rest centre for Wainfleet residents has also been set up in nearby Skegness.

Up to 35 homes in the town have been left without power after a substation on Matt Pit Lane flooded.

Western Power are on site and are working to restore the supply.

The utility company is also checking the homes of affected residents.

Image copyright Empics
Image caption Parts of Wainfleet were badly hit by the flooding
Image caption Police praised the community spirit shown by people in Wainfleet who helped with the recue effort

A number of flood warnings for Lincolnshire also remain in place.

Jean Hart, who has lived in the town for 40 years, said it was the worst flooding she had ever seen.

“To see our house under water is absolutely horrendous,” she said. “The whole of my house is completely devastated.”

Image copyright Jean Hart
Image caption Wainfleet resident Jean Hart posted a picture of the flood waters in her bathroom
Image caption She was later reunited with her tortoise, Mr T

She said she and her husband Kevin were now at a loss as to what to do.

“[You realise the] things you take for granted,” she said.

“It’s not just us – so many people are in the same situation and my heart goes out to them.”

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